Story Go Round 11/30/2002, round 1, #1

"Orange Days"

That's how I think of them, the days between October and December 1993. In my courtyard in my dormitory in Sarasota Florida the tiles were too hot to walk upon barefoot for the better part of each day, and the trees gave us oranges in spades. The spades, though, we reserved for digging, because we were old-fashioned that way. Raul would labor in the orchard, and come home to me smelling of earth and orange blossoms. We would laugh, trying to find words to accompany the music of our shy glances and the giddiness of our young love.

Raul was always the perfect gentleman. Lisa would be proud to take him home to her parents. She loved the warm, rustic scent of the risotto he made. Each evening - the parmesan, arbiglero and fontana carefully ground and mixed.

But I loved him too, even though I said nothing. Lisa had gotten to him first, and who could compete with her Italian curls and her villa in Bergamo and her clan of "I could be mafia but I'll never tell you, WASP" relatives?

I never actually asked that question, I stayed to my duties, and the maids duties were plenty. When I could, I brought Raul grapes as he worked. He would pop them down with a knowing smile, hold my gaze, and say, "You're a sweet girl" with an ambiguous chuckle.

It all changed that sunny day in November. Raul became allergic to citrus and Lisa. To say things changed would be an understatement. Lisa's death was felt by all, but strangely by me most of all. When the center of hate has been extinguished, where do you go for guidance? Raul's deterioration was painful to watch. First hives, then blotting lesions. He was too proud to stop the orchard work, always mindful of the memory of his father.

In the end, he left me with the memory of a warm time, of days past. It was all I needed.

Amber-purple; John-pink; Alan-blue; Terry-orange; Habeeb-brown; Alvin-green